Introducing the Treadmill Desk: Time Management Takes a Step Forward

Working an office job can drive you bonkers. Even if you enjoy work, there’s that voice in the back of your mind: “You’re sitting on your bottom all day. And it’s not getting any firmer.”

Until recently, desk-bound workers had to juggle their time between work, personal life, and exercise – and exercise tended to fall off the agenda. But now, clever workers have devised a solution: they’re building their own treadmill desks (see tips below). By absentmindedly walking while working, they can burn up to 1000 calories more per day than they do when being sedentary.

Industry has taken notice of the treadmill desk craze, so factory-built treadmill desks are now an option too.

Why Use a Treadmill Desk?

A treadmill desk is practical because even low-intensity walking can bring great benefits. With this “fitness furniture,” you can walk slowly enough to get office work done — but over several hours you will burn more calories than you would during a short, high-intensity workout.

The popularity of treadmill desks makes sense in light of a Mayo Clinic lab’s findings about NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Basically, Mayo lab leader Dr. James Levine has found that our general activity levels throughout the day have a greater impact upon fitness than do regular workouts. A person’s daily desk treadmill use could burn nearly 60 pounds annually, according to Levine’s calculations.

Daily walking is also associated with diverse health benefits such as sounder sleep, stronger bones, a healthier heart, and improved mental sharpness.

Things to consider when building a Treadmill Desk

Building a treadmill desk has become a popular do-it-yourself project. It can be as simple or complex as you like. Basically, the desk needs to fit over the treadmill so that it won’t be impacted by the machine’s vibrations. Here are some general ideas to spark your thinking:

  • A simple treadmill desk would look like a rectangular table. It should be large enough to accommodate a computer or whatever the worker needs at hand.

  • A more complex treadmill desk could include multiple monitors, speakers, built-in lighting, and other features of typical office desks.

  • Be aware of the extra noise distraction that the treadmill desk could cause to nearby co-workers and even people you may be talking on the phone to.

  • Make sure the desk is sturdy against the treadmill along with any other accessories you maybe using. Falling objects could cause bodily harm if knocked over while you are in motion.


  • The most difficult part of constructing your treadmill desk will probably involve working around the console. Depending on your treadmill model, the console could rise up behind the desk, show through the middle, or rest against the front. Think creatively and get some friends’ opinions. The solution will become obvious, and you’ll be proud to show off your practical, creative design!

Photo’s courtesy of Flickr

If you don’t want to create your own treadmill desk, you can also see our continuously updated list of the best treadmill desks here.

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